Drifting through Paradise

Part 2 – Through the Exumas – Nassau to George Town


December 15, 1999

Norman’s Cay, Exuma, Bahamas


We left Nassau for Norman’s Cay today.  Along with 15 other boats.  Not all 15 boats went to Norman’s however.  Some went to Highborn or Allens Cay.  The whole gang(Blue Star, Sea Teat, Amphora, Tididi, Katy, Alegria) are at Allens.  Blue Star tells us they will come by tomorrow.  It’s about 10 miles between the 2 Cays.


Last Night in Nassau, the anchorage was over full.  The city lights were beautiful, but here in Normans it’s paradise!  Beautiful islands, white sand beaches and the water is so clear!  We’re very glad to be here.  We have 2 packs of cigarettes and then we’re done.  Normans will be a nice place to detox.


We traveled across the Yellow Banks today.  There are two paths to get from Nassua to Norman’s:  Across the Yellow Banks or the dogleg.  Across, you encounter coral heads.  Coral Heads will sink the boat if we hit them right.  The Dog Leg has less coral heads but is 10 miles longer.  We were going to be conservative and do the Dog Leg.  But we talked with friends of Blue Star, Mystic, and they said you could easily spot these coral heads a mile off.  So we set for the Yellow Banks.


When we approached the area I put on the polarized sunglasses and went to the bow to look for coral heads.  Mitch and I worked out a hand signal method, so I could signal which way he should steer.


So when I began to see them, I began to signal.  As reference, a few of our guidebooks have pictures of coral heads.  Then, up ahead, I see a black puddle.  Probably 10’ x 10’.  The water all around is clear but for this puddle a half mile away.  That’s what a coral head looks like!  A puddle!  What I first thought was coral, was rock or coral way down in the water where our depth wouldn’t be affected.  With the water being so clear, it’s weird to try and make out coral, rock and grass, and how deep they are in the water.  I hope to learn to gauge the water better.  Mitchell told me later that he knew I was signaling him around nothing, but he didn’t want me to second guess myself.



December 17, 1999


We’ve got cinnamon rolls in the oven and we’re just getting ready to talk on the single side band with Jerry before the Net.  Every morning at 8:30 on channel 8152, we check in to let anyone/everyone know where we are.  If someone wants to talk with you or get a message to you, they announce it here.  We often hear people looking for boats.  Sometimes others on the net will have seen them and pipe in to announce what they know.


Yesterday Blue Star, Sea Treat and Amphora came into Norman’s.  We had a “Welcome to the Bahamas” Party.  I went to the beach earlier in the day looking for food.  All I was able to find were snails.  I saw a lot of baby conch.  You have to wait until their of reproduction age, which is about when their the size of two fists and have a lip on their shell.  I caught 5-6 snails but felt sorry for them.  So we set them free.


We also walked around Norman’s yesterday.  The island used to be a drop point for a Colombian drug lord 15 years ago.  Then the U.S. teamed up with the Bahamian government to shut them down.  The beaches and coral are very beautiful.  There are garbage piles however, from residents and boaters.  These are sad to look upon.  Also 20+ cars and trucks just rusting away along with a lot of abandon buildings.  I think Carlos Leder (the drug lord) had a resort where he invited his friends to come to the island.


Today is the last day for smoking.  I did laundry while Mitchell cleaned the boat and put knobs on our locker doors in the forepeak.  Later we will go with Ken and Dorothy, gunkholing.  Hopefully we’ll find conch!


December 18, 1999


We went to MacDuffs today for lunch.  Mitchell says, “What a weird concept; an island with 4-15 people, depending upon the season, living on it and a bar/resort  next to a airplane runway’.  The bar was filled today with boaters and residents.  So no populace to speak of with exception to a bar filled with people…


Today we mainly hung out on the boat.  I cooked bread and clover leaf rolls.  I used Jiffy mix which was a problem because the rolls came out too salty.  I will try plain flour next time.


MacDuffs was a fun time.  The prices we reasonable considering everything must be flown in by plane.  Sea Treat and Amphora are very nice people.  Blue Star and Tididi were there too.  It’s a fun group.  While we were there the bars’ new generator arrived, by plane of course.  So all the men went out and lent a hand to get the generator off the plane and onto a tractor.  We were all rewarded with drinks on the house.  I had the house specialty,  a rum pineapple drink.  It was very tasty.


December 19, 1999

Sampson Cay, Exumas, Bahamas


We are at Sampson Cay.  Today began with a touch of apprehension.  The weather these past few days has brought high winds and some squalls.  The current added to this mix made it a bit rolly.  And strong winds kept us from snorkeling.  Setting out this morning, we were concerned about the weather changing and getting hit with high winds or squalls in the wrong direction.  But God was very kind to us today.  The winds were not great, but they were light so we were able to motor sail.  We made water and was able to get fully charged again.


Sampson Cay is not windy or rolly.  In fact, Mitchell’s complaining that it’s very warm below.  Too warm to make pasta.  We feel very good about where we are.  The snorkeling is supposed to be very good here.  I’m told that a 007 movie was filmed here, “Thunderball” something.  Our Armada includes: Blue Star, Alegria, Tididi, Amphora and Sea Treat.  They are all very nice people.  Sea Treat let Amphora and us anchor first because we both draw 6’.  So tomorrow we snorkel and call home to our parents.  We’re told there might be a phone here.  We also need to deliver the books for church.  They are making the boat sail poorly because they weigh so much.


December 20, 1999


The date is a hard thing to keep track of.  Even what day of the week it is, is hard to keep track of.  We’re still at Sampson Cay.  We plan to stay in the area through Christmas.  Nearby(5 miles) is Big Major Point and Staniel Cay.  Big Major looks like a nice anchorage, we might move there.  Staniel Cay has got 3 grocery stores and a church and a yacht club and 1 marina.


We went to Staniel yesterday.  They also have a phone.  We picked up email and found out Bluewater Books returned the software to Esther.  This is the software that Mitch had Federal Expressed to Marathon only to discover it didn’t work with NT.  So he had to rent a car and return it in person in Ft. Lauderdale.  We had to call Bluewater books to straighten the mess out and at $1.00 per minute for phone calls, this weatherfax software was doubling in cost.  They ran Mitchell round for about 5 minutes ($5 dollars) and then I heard him say:  No I can’t call back and my next call will be to the Attorney Generals office and the Seven Seas Cruising Association.  This seemed to get their attention and they seemed more co-operative.


Alfie The Dog is piddling in the house.  I thought, maybe he’s dissatisfied with something.  Then we found out it’s 5 degrees below zero in MN.  And Esther says he acts like he’s tortured when she sends him outside.  Alfie doesn’t like cold.  Esther says she’s OK with him still.  Amazing!  So much news!  We blew over $40.00 in phone calls and I still didn’t get to talk with my Dad.  I did get to talk with my Grandmother and my Mom though.  That was nice. 


After all the phone calls, we went looking for someone at the church.  We were given directions to Vivian’s house.  When we got there, we pressed the doorbell and the doorbell played “Jesus Loves Me”.  No one was home so we went next store to the Isles General Store and asked if they knew if Vivian was near by.  Yes she’s near by the woman said and smiled.  The store keep was Vivian!  She’s interested in the books, so we will dinghy them in today and let her go through them.


Everyone here is very friendly and the houses are well kept and brightly painted.  Bright blue, pink and yellow or green.  I hope they have Christmas Service, I think that would be really nice. 


Talking with people on the phone, knowing they are so far away, I found a quote in the Yacht Club that struck me:


May the Lord watch

between me and thee

while we are absent

one from another


December 22, 1999


Yesterday and today were very busy days.  Yesterday we went gunkholing looking for conch.  We got one of legal size, but holed the dinghy in the process.  We were losing air fast so we took off back home.  I put the conch in our see through bucket.  Mitchell keeps asking me:  Are you going to kill that conch or not?  Well, I look through the bottom of the bucket and see these two eyes looking around with antenna, so he can swivel his eyes independently.  He’s looking around trying to figure out why he’s in a bucket.  There were a lot of baby conch in the area where I caught him.  So I imagine that he was probably telling the babies a conch story when I so thoughtlessly ripped him off the sea floor.  And now none of the baby conch will know how the Old Conch Stories go because he won’t be around to tell it.


I think to myself;  You can do this.  Stop being so soft.  Everybody kills and eats conch.  I consult my cookbook: 1. Hold his body next to the shell.  2. Crack a hole in the shell with a hammer.  3. Cut the connection membrane in the hole.  4.  He’s not dead yet, so pull him out and cut off his eyes!  This is going to take me longer than 5 minutes and meanwhile, I’m terrorizing this poor sea creature!


So we inflate the tube that has the hole in it and beat back to where we found him.(It would be rude not to)  So he goes back to where we found him among the baby conch and a bright red starfish.  We high tail it home before we sink in our dinghy.  Mitchell patched the dinghy well.  And Blue Star and Tididi came over for a sundowner(impromptu).  We decided that we were like a small village.  So instead of calling out 4 different boat names, when we call on the radio to each other, we could just call: The Village.  I called this morning and it worked.  Tonight Dorothy called The Village People and I thought, what a funny name for a boat.  Then I realized, we’re The Village!


The test with the dinghy was this morning.  First we moved 5 miles south to Big Major.  A pig lives on the island.  Then we packed up all the books from Church and delivered them to Vivian.  We’ll pick up what she doesn’t want next week.  The dinghy managed all those books well.  No problems.


Tomorrow, I think we’ll go see the pig and explore.  Mitch told me tonight that he didn’t want to kill an animal.  I thought I would continue to try for fish.  But it is hard to justify knowing we have a boat full of food.  I think I’ll pray to God and ask him to deliver a nice edible fish on our hook if it’s in the divine plan.  That way it will seem sanctioned, sort of.  With conch, you just pick them up.  No real defense on their part.  I’ve been looking for conch since Normans Cay.  I’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of baby conch, but they have to be a certain size to be caught legally because if you take conch that hasn’t reproduced… Well that’s extinction.  So, it is indicative that too many are being taken if they are so hard to find eh?


In this anchorage there are 15+ boats ranging in size from 27’ to 40’.  And there are 4 mega yachts 50’-150’ among these little sailboats.


December 25, 1999


Merry Christmas!  It’s been a nice Christmas too.  Thursday, we did get to feed the pig.  We decided we didn’t like the mixed pasta shells that we have on board.  Specifically, the spinach shells.  So I picked out all the green ones.  I was making pasta salad, so I had left over water too.  So I cooked up the green shells and armed with a few dinner rolls, off we went to see Miss Piggy!(Later we find out her real name is Emily)  The night before there were people on the radio talking about their encounters with the pig.  “She climbed in my dinghy”, “She bit me”, Well, she doesn’t see well”, “Watch out, she’ll swim out to meet you and swamp your dinghy”  Well, needless to say, we were, or I was a bit apprehensive about approaching this beach and this pig.  Mitchell didn’t seem as shook as I was.  So as he motored the dinghy toward the beach I prepared to lob dinner rolls at her to distract her from swimming out to us.  The dinner rolls worked, but she eats so fast.  I just barely got to the beach as she ran to me so I threw down the bag of pasta and let her root through it.  I didn’t want to help her for fear she would accidentally bite my fingers.  I think the tales of her are larger than life.  We saw a dinghy motor up to the beach, the pig went to greet them, but she didn’t climb in their dinghy or bite them.


We also got to snorkel Thunderball Cave.  The coral and bottom are so cool!  There were tons of fish.  The fish surround you as you swim.  So cool!


Christmas Eve, we went into Staniel Cay.  There was a line at the pay phones.  We got to pick up our email and talk with our parents.  It was nice.  Alfie hasn’t piddled in the house for a week.  Maybe he’s getting more comfortable.  A cold front was forecasted to come through Friday night.  There was also a dinner scheduled at Club Thunderball and a Candle Light Service at church.  Friday afternoon we watched the front approach.  A big bank of dark clouds.  We were hoping it would arrive before dinner.  We weren’t sure if we should make the 10 minute dinghy ride to Club Thunderball or not.  The front still had not arrived at 6pm, so we headed to Club Thunderball for Christmas Dinner.  Dinner was nice: Chicken, corn on the cob, rice with peas and coleslaw.  After dinner, the stars disappeared and the wind began to increase.  The front had arrived.  We climbed into the dinghy, checked the fuel.  No fuel, so we filled the tank and set out home.  That’s when it began to rain.  It was a wet and windy and dark ride home.  The islands were big dark masses.  We would shine the flashlight at the island and it looked so much closer.  It wasn’t very close, but the light made it look so odd.  When we got back to Hetty, we were wet.  It was nice to be home.  The wind and waves didn’t seem to be so large now.  I opened our hatch and climbed inside…   There were presents by the tree!  Santa was here while we were out having dinner!  We opened our bottle of eggnog and opened our gifts.  I got the most beautiful Guatemalan backpack!  Black with brown and white fishes on it.  It’s wonderful!  Mitchell got a hat and can cozy with the Staniel Cay Yacht club ensign on them.  What a warm and wonderful Christmas!


The wind and waves seem to be picking up today, Saturday.  The forecast is for high winds for the next few days.  The wind generator will be working to fill our batteries and we’ll be busy making baked treats.  We do miss not being in MN. for Christmas.  I think next year we should try and get home for the holidays.


December 28, 1999

Staniel Cay


The winds blew and blew and blew.  Sunday they were from the north, northwest.  That was all right.  We had some protection from the island north of us.  So the waves weren’t too bad.  I made bread and peanut butter cookies.  Actually, I made dough for the cookies and Mitchell baked them.  The winds were still too strong to go to church though.  I think my skill at bread making is getting better.  The final product had a good consistency.


Monday-Boxing Day-The winds continued to blow, but more westerly than north.  At Big Majors, we have no westerly protection.  So the waves piled up.  We tried to move a bit closer to the island and a bit more north, but that didn’t help much.  Last night was the rolliest night.  Straight west wind.  We haven’t slept in the forepeak for 3 nights!  I think last night was probably the worst for lack of sleep.  Mitchell got 2 ˝ hours of sleep.  The roll, up and down was large.  Up and down is far preferable than side to side, which we experienced over the weekend.  In any event, it’s time to go.  Where, is the question.  We could anchor behind the Thunderball grotto, but there is a strong north/south current in there.  On the other side of Big Major the holding is questionable.  Our chart says poor holding, yet people swear it’s all right.  If we can’t find comfort behind Thunderball grotto, we will have to go south, 59 mile to Georgetown because there’s no good protection from strong winds between here and there.  59 miles would be an overnight passage.  Since Mitchell only had 2 ˝ hours of sleep, we figured we would try behind the grotto and see how it was.  Another added component was that along with us having a less than restful night last night, 12+ other boats were in the same predicament.  Tuesday morning all radio conversations were between the people at Big Majors and the people behind the grotto.  How was their night?  How rolly was it? Etc….  Then to disseminate their opinions.  It’s helpful to know what kind of boat they have.  If it’s a small fast boat, they will be more uncomfortable than a large heavy boat.  So we decided to tuck in behind the grotto.  Hopefully quickly, as there are 12+ boats wanting to do the same thing.


We get there, put down the anchor and drag.  Mitchell says when he put his hand on the chain, it vibrated like someone was dragging it across a driveway!  70’ of chain, 3 pounds per foot, 210 pounds! Now, on 2 ˝ hours sleep, he has to pull it all up.  I can’t help because I need to be at the helm, ready to drive us away if we come close to rocks.  The current is very strong.  Blue Star came in with us and I saw them moving sideways with the current faster than they were moving forward!  What to do now?  Well, there are mooring balls here and one left.  We were told no one likes this last mooring ball because it’s the bumpiest and rolliest.  People moor here for one night and leave again.  Mitchell is exhausted, I don’t feel that perky myself.  So we decide we’ll give it a try.  We hope that since we are one of the heavier boats around here, we’ll be more comfortable than the other boats that took this mooring.  How do you pick u a mooring ball?  A mooring ball is a ball attached to the bottom with very strong chain.  We just nosed up forward very slowly to the ball.  Then Mitchell pulled the roped attached to the ball up.  We decided to celebrate my birthday early since the last few days have been less than comfortable.  So we went to Thunderball Club for cheeseburgers and french fries!  It was great!  Then later we were invited over to Journey.  Journey is a 50–some foot powerboat.  Dave, Ellen and baby Amy aboard along with Captain John..  They are very nice people.  We met them at Normans.  They are on a 3 weeks cruise.  They’re from Chicago.  They’ve been to Alaska.  Then they had their boat shipped to Chicago.  Then earlier this year they had her moved down the Mississippi, through the Gulf to Nassau, where they began their cruise.  Journey is a beautiful boat with a lot of creature comforts.


December 29, 1999


Oh my what a fun filled schedule they have for my birthday!  Staniel Cay has fireworks, junkanoo, golf, regatta and a lot of other fun things scheduled.  We figured there would be no sleep from Thursday to Sunday if one was to participate in it all.  Last night on our $10.00 mooring ball was very restful.  Mitchell woke once in the night to check the ball, but otherwise it was very restful.  We think we’ll stay here until the west wind subsides.  The forecast calls for the west wind to clock north tonight and east for the remainder of the week.  It sounds like the weather will be nice.  We toy with the idea of staying on the ball, because it will be so convenient for the festivities.  Junkanoo is scheduled for 4am on Saturday.  I don’t want to miss that.  So we will need a nap.  Speaking of  naps, among The Village, we’re known as the boat that Snacks And Naps.  Our friends go on a lot of dinghy rides and hikes.  We often opt out of these scheduled activities, preferring to relax, snack and nap on Hetty.  Once in a while when The Village decides to do something, you’ll hear another boat say: We’re going to follow Hetty Braces schedule and Snack And Nap.


There are also a lot of boats that move south to Georgetown.  Each day they stop at Norman’s or Staniel and instead of staying any length of time, they take off the next day.  I think there is a preconceived notion that George Town is the end all place to be.  We call boats who travel this fast Itchy Britches…  As in, They have Itchy Britches to get to Georgetown.  Georgetown is a demarcation line.  Many people spend the whole 6 months there.  Others just re-provision and move farther south.


December 31, 1999


It’s my Birthday!  There’s a banner in the boat that says so!  When I awoke, which was before 6am.  I got up to check our mooring ball because I could hear it thumping on the hull.  (This happens when the current opposes the wind.)  And to my surprise, there’s a banner in the boat:  Happy Birthday Michelle!!!  I laughed and smiled, what a wonderful way to wake up!


Yesterday Steve and Roger (Sea Treat and Amphora) caught conch.  I watched them kill and clean it.  I might be able to do that.  I keep thinking how every meal we’re able to catch will help our budget.  Then I think about all the food we have and I think that the animal I kill won’t make the difference.  They offered us some conch and I accepted.  What a hypocrite huh?  We bought lobster Thursday too.  We bought it from a Bahamian named Alan.  When Alan heard it was going to be my Birthday dinner, he threw in another tail!  Very nice guy!  We provisioned yesterday too.  We’re thinking if the winds are right, we should take off on Sunday.  Where to?  I’m not sure.


I have my fishing pole out and am using conch guts as bait.  So far no one is biting.  I pray to God we only catch something edible.(If it’s His will.)  I don’t want to terrorize a fish we’re not going to kill.  Wednesday, we went over to Rising Sun(Allan & Carol)  They have a Camper & Nicholson too.  Allan took the last year off to work full time on his boat.  There boat is very nice and feels new.  Where our boat has a lot of wood, their boat is newly covered with a Formica like substance.  It’s really nice to see other ideas we could use.  Rising Sun has a quarter berth.  Mitch and I talked about putting on in.  So that was especially nice to see.



January 1, 2000


I was able to write the date without a problem so Y2K must be bunk.  I feel hung over but I didn’t drink a lot yesterday.  2 glasses of wine.  I think all of yesterdays activities wore us out.  It began early.  I used conch guts to fish and caught 3 fish!  The first one was a snapper.  We thought he was too small so we threw him back.  He was about 10” long.  The second was bigger 12”-15”.  Again, we thought him to small so we threw him back.  The last one was a snapper, a bit smaller than the first but I reeled him in anyway.  I put him in a bucket, thanked him for his life, and poured alcohol on him so he’d die quickly.  The last cast I did, I had to fight hard.  The reel was very taut.  I lost the hook.  Someone bit through the line!  Sea Treat came over with chocolates and conch for my birthday.  They are so nice!  Thursday night there was an auction.  Steve and Ann bid on and won the chocolates they gave me! The purpose of the auction was to raise money to help finance the regatta.  Sailors gave items to auction off.  My Mom gave us yogurt covered pretzels in a Christmas tin.  I served them at a gathering last week and we put Blue Stars gift in the tin. Blue Star submitted the tin to the auction and it went for $10.00!  Surprise! Surprise!  Anyway, it was time to watch the Bahamian regatta.  The cruisers signed up to sail on the various local sailboats.  Everyone we know got a chance to crew.  Then we had conch burgers at the Staniel Cay Yacht club.  We were very tired by now, but soon we’d have to get ready for New Years Eve.  Dinner on Blue Star then church then fireworks then a nap until junkanoo, which starts at 4am.  We got a nap and showered.  Mitchell made me a birthday cake.  A chocolate birthday cake with milk chocolate frosting!  So we brought our lobster and cake over to Blue Stars for dinner.  Ken and Dorothy are very entertaining friends.  It was a nice dinner with conch salad, greek salad, lobster with pasta and chocolate cake!  Then off to church!  I think they had an electric guitar.  They sang a lot and clapped a lot.  It was a really nice service.  The church got really crowded, so Mitchell gave up his seat.  Midnight was approaching.  Church was not going to end before midnight.  I wiggled over to where Mitchell was, but there was only one chair.  We went to try and stand in the back of the church, but a lot of people were already standing back there.  So we left and began to walk down the main street.  Main street is a 12’ wide path.  Some of it has been washed away so it narrows to 6’ in spots.  When midnight arrived, we were under the stars in a quiet spot next to the beach.  We could hear the people at Staniel Cay Yacht Club counting down and cheering.  It was perfect.  All the excitement.  All the hype.  And here we were enjoying the beginning of 2000 in the middle of nowhere.  The fireworks went off.  The reflections they made in the water was beautiful.  Katy (Tom and Karen) were on the beach lighting off fireworks and enjoying sparklers.  We also ran into Renegade (Peter and Eveyln).  We met Peter and Evelyn on Christmas Day.  We enjoyed sundowners on the beach on Christmas Day with them and a few other couples.  They are Austrian and have a 48’ catamaran. Evelyn even has a clothes washing machine on board!  They decided they were going to race in the New Years Day regatta and invited us along.  Sea Treat also raced.  Sailing a catamaran is very different.  Their boat is beautiful.  They built her themselves.  It’s not finished yet, but the work they’ve done so far is very nice.  Long story short, we won!  We were the first boat to cross the finish line.  Now we needed another nap before the awards ceremony.  Are you tired reading all this?  We got extremely tired doing all this.  It was a lot of fun, but now we’re very tired.  On the way home tonight, two women were sitting on a bench, next to the road.  We said Hi and then one said “Happy belated birthday!”  What fun!


January 3, 2000

Blackpoint, Exumas, Bahamas


Sunday we went to Blackpoint Settlement.  It was just 5 miles away, but the wind was strong and there were squalls.  So it was enough for today.  We went ashore to take a walk.  A cold front is expected in the area by Wednesday, so we’re not sure how long we should stay.  This is not a good place for west winds.  On our walk we met Eunice.  Eunice weaves baskets, hats and mats.  She told us to come by tomorrow to see them.  Our “Tour Guide”(self-appointed), was the nicest mixed breed pup.  We would pet him and then start to walk again at which point he would walk in front of us, so we would have to stop and pet him again or trip over him.  We went to Adderly’s store too.  Their prices were good and Reverend Adderly was there.  He’s very nice too.  We bought bacon for BLT’s.  On down the street, people saying hello, all very warm and friendly.  We met Willie Rolle.  Willie wants to show us his garden.  The Garden Of Eden.  Which it surely is.  The ground is a mixture of earth and coral/rock.  Willie has selected pieces of wood with fantastic shapes and created statues.  A ballerina with a conch shell for a head.  A goat, a snake, Jesus on the cross…  Among the statues are papaya, banana, peanuts, apple and orange trees, bushes…  He explained and showed us how well he and his family could live off this land.  He was so warm and engaging.  We got to meet his wife, Betty.  Willie has 5 daughters and 9 grandchildren.  Their home and those we’ve seen so far are airy(because there is no glass windows, only window frames) and sparsely furnished.  I don’t think Willies home had any electricity or water.(Other than the bucket I saw one of his grandchildren carrying.)  It’s funny/ironic how life is.  Willie and his family are so rich with family, togetherness and virtues.  Although I don’t think they have more than 10 bucks total.  The whole town is very economic poor, but so friendly and warm and giving.  We asked Willie how long we might be able to stay here until the Bahamian government finds us.  He said they never would as long as you live decent and cause no trouble.  Hmmm, a plan maybe?  Willie also told us some artists from New York came to view his sculptures and talked about possibly creating greeting cards and such.  Then it got dark and Willie walked us back to the dock.  On the way we passed a water pump.  He said it was RO(reverse osmosis) water and we were more than welcome to fill our tanks!  Staniel Cay charged .50 cents per gallon for water and these people were giving it away!  We haven’t seen free water since Ft. Myers Beach, FL.! On Monday we decided to head south  to try and get better cover before the front came.  But in the morning we went ashore again.  We asked Reverend Adderly about the need for church supplies.  We was more enthusiastic than Staniel Cay!  So we dropped a note off to Chuck at the Ruskin Methodist Church asking for more supplies.  It would be so exciting to be able to organize a shipment of supplies to them.  He also said any children’s clothes were welcome.  The address:  Reverend Adderly, Blackpoint, Exuma Islands, Bahamas.  On our way out we stopped to see Eunice and buy a basket and mat from her.  She’s been widowed a few years and is very delighted that Mitch and I are together.  She says he’s my Sweet Potato and I am his Sweet Potato.



January 4, 2000

Big Galliot Cay, Exumas, Bahamas


Tonight we are at Galliot Cay.  Big Galliot and Little Galliot actually.  The current is strong and the cut to Exuma Sound is less than 1 mile away.  We will try to exit through the cut tomorrow morning.  The reason I say try is because the wind and current, if it’s opposing each other would make the pass treacherous.  So we will be very cautious.  We’re headed towards Lee Stocking Island about 15 miles away.  Already we know the sailing will be rough because the wind won’t be favorable.  Lee Stocking Island has a marine research facility.  Sometimes they give tours.  Then we’re just 20 miles from Georgetown.  HooBoy!  Big city here we come!  September Song left yesterday.  Today their at the Vinoy yacht basin in St. Petersburg.  From the Vinoy to Desoto to Charlotte Harbor to the Dry Tortugas.  Mitchell and I are very excited to hear their impressions and adventures that Tom and Cindy and Dylan are embarking upon.  We are also excited to see them.  Not only because they are bringing us Snickers.  Today we had BLT sandwiches and conch chowder.  Boy, it was good.


January 6, 2000

Lee Stocking Island, Exumas, Bahamas


Lee Stocking Island is an international marine research facility.  Scientists and students come from all over to study the environment.  I think NOAA subsidizes the work here.  We’re on a mooring ball.  They’re free.  Thank you Uncle Sam!  Tuesday we stayed at Galliot because of high winds.  Wednesday the sea was calm so we took off into Exuma Sound.  The cut was bouncy, but not too bad.  Kind of like being in a washing machine that is 1 mile wide.  Katy, the trawler got tossed around a lot.  So much so that they got air in their fuel lines.  It took them 2 hours to get the engine bled.  I think Tom ingested about a gallon of diesel, bleeding the engine so not only were they bobbing around engineless, he was feeling pretty sick.  Blue Star, Sea Treat and us sailed slowly while Amphora(who has the same engine as Katy and is the biggest boat) stayed near by just in case Katy needed a tow or help.  But she got going again. Yahoo!  We got to Lee Stocking at noon.  We wanted to sail on to Georgetown but we were worried that arriving at 4pm wouldn’t allow us enough light to clearly see the cut into Georgetown.  Today we awoke with 2 knot winds.  We were worried about the wave action in the cut so decided to stay here today.  These cuts can be quite dangerous if not carefully maneuvered.  You need the right current, right wind and light.  Looking back, we probably could have continued yesterday or we could have left this morning.(We talked with someone in Georgetown that said the cut was calm today.)  Tomorrows forecast is 15 knots east, north-east winds.  Less wind than today so we should be in good shape.  We expected to be in Georgetown by yesterday.  We sent a note off to our family saying we’ll be there by the weekend.  I’m glad we did, now they won’t worry.  Blue Star and Katy both gave us conch.  We had cracked conch with rice for dinner.  It was very nice.  The conch Dorothy gave me I had to tenderize myself.  Karen tenderized the conch she gave me.  What a difference!  Karen’s conch was so much more tender!  I will need to get a tenderizing mallet.  I also want a 7” tube pan for rum cake and a screen to prevent grease from splattering when we cook bacon.  We also have a list of chores we want to do when we get to Georgetown.  Among them is to look at the water heater.  Mitch says it’s aluminum so maybe it’s fixable.  We miss our doggy and kitty very much.  It will be nice to see them.